Reformists have always implied, over the years, that their attempts at shrinking the raw exercise of power by the State is, in effect, a bloodlessly legal coup d’état. Naomi Wolf once warned that George W. Bush had staged a coup d’état on October 1st of 2008 in order to prevent the elections that year from occurring; not only that, but she also told the Free Staters during last year’s New Hampshire Liberty Forum, an idea to the effect of, “We need the State, we need to become the State.” The time has come to address the substance of what a coup d’état requires, and more importantly, whether it meshes with the twin libertarian maxims of the non-aggression principle and the self-ownership axiom, for the sake of ends-means consistency.
Strategic goals must be elucidated in order to understand conceptually what a coup d’état means. Luttwak first distinguishes between revolutions, civil wars, pronunciamentos, and putschs, and then he provides an actual definition:
“A coup consists of the infiltration of a small but critical segment of the state apparatus, which is then used to displace the government from its control of the remainder.”
Ah, what a unique choice of words, isn’t it? So, a facet of the government seizes control over other elements of the State by centralizing power unto itself; isn’t this what the United States Congress did back in 1946 with their creation of the Administrative Agencies as the fourth branch of government? Luttwak elaborates:
“If a coup does not make use of the masses, or of warfare, what instrument of power will enable it to seize control of the state? The short answer is that the power will come from the state itself. The long answer makes up the bulk of this book.”
Okay, I fail to see how reformists of any stripe could expect anyone to take them seriously with their claim that, somehow, by working inside the system in order to change it from within, is in any way a bloodless coup d’état! Not only that, but if Luttwak is correct, then the fact that the State is the only actor that can pull off a coup d’état, I think, settles the question in my mind as to whether reformism is an expression of a coup d’état, particularly considering whom the “liberty activists” are, in this context.
Constitutionally, both the federal and Texas governments appear to have outlawed coups. The clauses and their citations are as follows:
- “The Congress shall have Power…To provide calling forth the Militia to execute the Laws of the Union, suppress Insurrections and repel Invasions.” – Insurrection Clause (Art. I § 8 cl. 15)
- “Treason against the United States, shall consist only in levying War against them, or in adhering to their Enemies, giving them Aid and Comfort. No Person shall be convicted of Treason unless on the Testimony of two Witnesses to the same overt Act, or on Confession in open Court. The Congress shall have Power to declare the Punishment of Treason, but no Attainder of Treason shall work Corruption of Blood, or Forfeiture except during the Life of the Person attained.” – Treason Clause (Art. III § 3)
- “Treason against the State shall consist only in levying war against it, or adhering to its enemies, giving them aid and comfort; and no person shall be convicted of treason except on the testimony of two witnesses to the same overt act, or on confession in open court.” (Art. I § 22)
- “He [the Governor] shall be Commander-in-Chief of the military forces of the State, except when they are called into actual service of the United States. He shall have power to call forth the militia to execute the laws of the State, to suppress insurrections, and to repel invasions.” (Art. IV § 7)
Other than the difference between whom has the constitutionally delegated power to call forth the militia, both constitutions take a firm stand against insurrections, and I would assume that coup d’états would be included. Whenever reformist polemics loudly declare that they are “openly conspiring” to perform a bloodless coup, not only are such actions illegal, they’re outright unconstitutional! If these reformists advocate for a restoration of constitutional government, then what exactly are they restoring if they are intent on committing treason and insurrection against these United States?
Luttwak analyzes different political factions, and their importance to the conspirators of a coup d’état. One such analysis, I think, is worth mentioning, simply because it reinforces what I wrote three years ago about how Muslims are being scapegoated in order to justify the never-ending “terror war.” As Luttwak describes Islam:
“The political sterility of Islam in recent times has meant that, though, it has been used by governments to propagate their political initiatives, Islam per se has acted only when a direct attack has been made on religious orthodoxy. Consequently, unless our coup has a definite anti-Islamic coloring, religious leaders in Muslim countries will not initiate any action against us. We must therefore prevent our opponents’ imposing such a coloring on our coup.”
Perhaps the constitutionalist patriot faction could learn a thing or two from Luttwak here, instead of trying to counter-productively antagonize the Muslims every damn chance they get. Luttwak goes on to say that:
“Islam, which as the comprehensive nature of a religion, a political system, and a civilization, is still (though much decayed) a major political force and its leaders play a recognized political role…[t]he structures of Islam as an organized religion are fossilized; the fluid and dynamic aspect of the movement in its early days has been replaced by a dogmatic and extremely conservative set of beliefs, whose inflexibility is one of the causes of the present travail of the Arab world.”
Maybe if the United States Citizenship and Immigration Services chose to specifically exclude Islamists for this reason alone, then the backlash against them by American patriots wouldn’t have occurred, but hey, without government, who would forcibly balkanize the domestic population against itself?
Coup d’états require allegiance from the military. By contrast, guerrilla warfare literature has variously stressed the importance of popular nationalist support, as well as the political training of irregular combatants, besides the desirability for guerrillas to become ascetic social reformers. Similarly, underground resistance is about as antithetical to a coup d’état as you can get, mainly because it’s a reactionary pushback against the State by decentralized elements of the country.
During the execution of a coup, Luttwak stresses that the most important tasks the conspirators must do thoroughly is to sabotage the means of communication and transportation for loyalist forces. This could entail removing a few sections of rail lines or dunking radio equipment into buckets of water. Luttwak says about communication that:
“Our objective is not merely to control but also to monopolize the flow of information, and we must therefore deal with every single facility. This would be difficult (and would also lead to a dispersal of our forces) if we tried to seize and hold every single facility. Our strategy will therefore be to seize and hold just one facility, the one most closely associated with the voice of authority, while neutralizing the others.”
Notice the use of the words “monopolize” and “authority” in this quoted paragraph. This is an example of where a violent takeover of government by government is inherently authoritarian. Nothing good could ever come from this folly.
Let me take a moment or so to debunk some misconceptions. A coup d’état is not monkey-wrenching, precisely because the latter is a war of attrition, whereas the former is an immediate sudden change. Despite their polemic rhetoric, the unfree “Free State” Project and the anti-libertarian “Libertarian” Party have portrayed themselves over the years as legally acceptable coups, yet, as I hope I’ve already demonstrated, these reformist organizations are anything but coups; if anything, actual coups must be conducted in utmost secrecy in light their very unconstitutionality as well as the severe punishments for the conspirators in case of failure or if they are captured.
Edward Luttwak’s Coup d’État: A Practical Handbook is an enlightening look into an artificial contrivance by the State in destabilizing civilization as we know it. Coup d’états are an inherently statist phenomenon, and therefore, are intrinsically at odds with both libertarian principles and the economic means of making money. In other words, the military would be used to seize control of the civil government, so in that sense Naomi Wolf appeared initially plausible in her assertion back in 2008 that Bush, Jr. staged a coup d’état, yet, where she erred was in overestimating the threat, mainly because she, like most of the patriots, do not know how to do any sort of risk analysis or threat assessments rationally.
Sound strategy rests on the rational synergy between ends and means, and perfect strategy would produce a victory that would be virtually bloodless; however, does this mean that executing a coup d’état is primed as perfect strategy? Not if you are a libertarian, so, if anything, this would encourage us to use the indirect approach. Never forget that strength and training without discipline is useless, and I can say for certain that reformists have no discipline whatsoever.